Apologetics

“Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.”

Acts 17:17

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Subsection

Natural Theology

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Order of Contents

Articles
Books
On Worldview
Quotes

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Articles

1800’s

Alexander, Archibald – Introduction to A Rational Defence of the Gospel  1831, 10 pp.  The book is by Isaac Watts.

Cunningham, William – General Revelation and the Evidences of Christianity  1878  145 pp.  being chapters 10-20 of his Theological Lectures, p. 124 ff.

Cunningham was a professor in the Free Church of Scotland.

Girardeua, John – What is a Miracle?  A Reply to Dr. Martin, around 1888, p. 57, 8 pages, an Appendix to Dr. Girardeau’s Anti-Evolution: the Logic of his Reply, from the Christian Observer.  Dr. Girardeau had originally written an article in the Presbyterian Quarterly on the supernatural character of miracles.  Martin criticized this work in four successive articles in theSouthern Presbyterian.  Here is Girdeau’s reply to Martin’s criticisms.  Girardeau’s Anti-Evolution: the Logic of His Reply is Martin’s response to this piece by Girardeau.

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2000’s

Fulford, Andrew – ‘The Problem of Natural Revelation in the Thought of Cornelius Van Til’  2014  28 paragraphs

Minich, Joseph – ‘A Review of: Covenantal Apologetics by K. Scott Oliphant’  2014, 63 paragraphs

A helpful critique of Presuppositional VanTillianism in general, by a reformed writer.

Muller, Richard – Aquinas Reconsidered, pt. 1, 2, 3  on Reformation21  being a review of Scott Oliphint’s book, Thomas Aquinas

Mathison, Keith A. – ‘Christianity & Van Tillianism’  2019  113 paragraphs

“In light of all of these problems with Van Til’s thought, it is clear that when twentieth-century Reformed Christians followed Van Til and adopted his presuppositionalism in place of the traditional apologetics and theology of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Reformed scholastic theologians, they let go of an invaluable and precious birthright. What replaced that birthright has been uniquely detrimental to the contemporary Reformed church…

If we would take the time to go back and carefully reread the Reformed scholastics, we would discover that it is they, and not Van Til, who provide us with an approach to theology and a foundation for apologetical work that is biblical, clear, precise, and internally self-consistent.”

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Books

1800’s

Alexander, Archibald –  Evidences of the Authenticity, Inspiration, Canonical Authority of the Holy Scriptures  1906  326 pp.  This is a later expanded edition that includes A Brief Outline of the Evidences of the Christian Religion, 1825, and parts of The Canon of the Old and New Testaments Ascertained, 1833.

Buchanan, James

Modern Atheism: compared to Faith in God in their essential natures, theoretic grounds, and practical influence  1855  510 pp.  by James Buchanan.  This is volume 1 of Buchanan’s two volume work on Atheism.

This book consists of three parts, (1) arguments for the existence of God from general revelation, (2) an examination of such proofs, and (3) a critique of the theories that underly Atheism.  “Modern Atheism” refers to the specific stripe of atheism that was rising in Buchanan’s day, though it is hardly different than the atheism of our own day.

Modern Atheism: under its forms of Pantheism, Materialism, Secularism, Development and Natural Laws  1857  423 pp.  Here is an HTML version, by James Buchanan.  This is volume two of Buchanan’s two volume work on Atheism.  The first two chapters (128 pages) are the same as section three in the first volume.

Buchanan initially entered the Free Church college in 1845 as professor of Apologetics.  These two volumes reflect his competency and work in that field.  Here he takes on the prevailing secular worldviews of his day, most of which are the same as in our own day.  

Cunningham, William – Theological Lectures: on Subjects Connected with Natural Theology, Evidences of Christianity, the Canon and Inspiration of Scripture  Buy  1878  625 pp.

Cunningham was a professor in the Free Church of Scotland.

This collection of lectures in its subject matter forms an extended exposition of the first chapter of the Westminster Confession.  Cunningham “had bestowed much care and labor upon their composition and revision, and that he had attached a special value to them as the first-fruits of his professional labors.”

Dabney, Robert – The Sensualistic Philosophy of the Nineteenth Century Considered  Buy  1875  369 pp.

Here is Dabney’s major interaction with the popular philosophies (or “worldviews” in contemporary language) of his day.  See here for a review.

Girardeau, John

Discussions of Philosophical Questions  1900  532 pp.

A modern title to this book would be “Conflict of Worldviews”

Discussions of Theological Questions  Buy  534 pp.  see the Buy link for the table of contents.

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2000’s

Fesko, J.V. – Reforming Apologetics: Retrieving the Classical Reformed Approach to Defending the Faith  Buy  Baker, 2019  256 pp.

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On Worldview

Quote

Richard M. Gamble

New Horizons (March 2017), a magazine of the OPC

“Frame takes it for granted that “worldview” is a durable, if not permanent, concept. This assumption seems unwarranted. Worldview is itself a product of modern philosophy—of Hegel’s idealism, to be precise. Frame doesn’t see an antithesis between worldview and Christianity. But that tension needs to be explored. Worldview as a concept may not even survive the passing of the modern age. If not, then Christians need to be equipped for life after worldview.”

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Article

Haines, David – ‘A Potential Problem with Presuppositionalism’  Journal of the ISCA, 2017

Haines has been a professor of philosophy at Veritas Evangelical Seminary.

The Achilles heel of Van Til is his commitment to the idea that all rational beings observe, necessarily, the phenomena of this world through an interpretative schema by which they interpret everything, and from which they cannot escape;and, that there is, therefore, no common ground.

We suggest that the greatest difficulty for Presuppositionalism is that if these claims constitute the foundation of Presuppositionalism, then it would seem that there is no way to know, with any measure of certainty, that Van Til (and, therefore, his particular school of reformed Christianity) is telling the truth, and that all other views say false…  There are no reasons that can be given either to defend his system or to attack his system; and this would also be true of all those beliefs that fall within interpretative systems of fallen man…

(3) If a person interprets all of reality, always, through his interpretative schema, then he cannot have unmediated and uninterpreted access to reality in order to compare the proposed truth claims of his schema with the way in which things really are (in other words, there is no common ground or objective position from which a person could accomplish the unmediated and uninterpreted comparison that he must accomplish, according to the second premise, in order to know the truth or falsity of his schema.)…

Is there any way to avoid this embarrassing situation?…  The third premise seems to be the most analytical affirmation that is to be found in the postmodern theory that is Presuppositionalism.  It is quite simply a fact that, if a person always interprets reality through their interpretive schema, then one cannot have access, without mediation or interpretation, to reality in order to compare the truth claims of said schema to the way things really are.  That is to say, if a person always interprets reality through their interpretive schema, then even if they wanted (or attempted) to compare the statements of their schema with “reality”, they would be doing this comparison through the interpretive schema that they are attempting to examine. It’s like having a pair of colored spectacles (let us say that they are pink) permanently cemented on your face…  

It follows that if we reject either the third or fourth premise, or both, then we reject at the same time, Presuppositionalism; what we accept, however, would be the classical position of orthodox reformed theology, as seen in such great theologians as John Calvin and Francis Turretin.” – pp. 5-9

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Quotes

John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan

“Time was when I was so sunk in atheism that once on seeing a horse I said to myself, ‘There is no difference between that horse and me.'”

“It [Christianity] is a great historical fact; if we reject it we must explain it to vindicate the rejection; we must find its source in natural causes, and this you cannot do.”

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